Support for Bush and Blair's war against Afghanistan is ebbing fast. Tony Blair tried to claim that the bombing was 'moral' in his speech to the Welsh assembly on Tuesday. But what is moral about slaughtering hundreds of people through aerial bombardment?
What is ethical about blocking food relief supplies and thereby sentencing hundreds of thousands of Afghan people to certain death through famine as the winter arrives? That is many, many times the death toll at the World Trade Centre. An opinion poll published in the Guardian on the day Blair spoke showed support for the war has dropped by 12 percent in the past fortnight. The reality of war has seen one in eight people changing their minds about it.
A clear majority (54 percent to 29 percent) now believe there should be a pause in the bombing to allow aid convoys into Afghanistan. The Guardian comments, 'There has been a significant change in the mood of the country towards the war, and this explains why ministers have spent the last weekend trying to shore up public opinion.'
When the Mirror led its front page on Monday with an excellent anti-war article by John Pilger it was inundated with letters, the overwhelming majority supporting Pilger. The communication workers' CWU union has also added its voice to those calling for a halt to the bombing.
New Labour ministers were terrified by the demonstrations of 50,000 people in London and 4,500 in Glasgow on 13 October. They fear the next march will be even bigger. Bush and Blair will not simply go on as they are. Either they have to make concessions to the growing anti-war mood or they will lash out in even more brutal and violent ways in an attempt to 'get it over with quickly'.
The response so far has been to press on with the war and promise even more dreadful firepower-more raids, more ground troops and more terrible weapons. That is why we now need to massively step up the agitation and protest against the war.
We do not simply want to make symbolic gestures. We want to force the British government to break from the bloody coalition assembled to smash Afghanistan. The anti-war protests and meetings so far have been a strong sign of the feeling against the slaughter. But the urgency of the situation requires a much bigger and more powerful movement.
Polls show that one in five people in Britain are against all military action. many more are against the bombing even if they are not sure what should be done. The anti-war camp is millions strong. We need to make our presence felt. Everyone can get involved.
Blair's 18 month old victim
Eighteen month old Hameedullah was badly injured by a US bomb-12 members of his family were killed
What you can do to stop this war
- Make sure you are at Hyde Park, London, at 12 noon on Sunday 18 November for the next crucial national protest.
- Encourage family, friends, workmates and everyone you know to come as well.
- Outside London, arrange transport to the protest. This needs to be not just a few coaches but fleets of coaches.
- If 250 people at a single college are against the war that means booking five coaches just from that college.
- Leaflet colleges, workplaces and town centres to let people know that the protest is happening and how they can get there.
Lessons from Kosovo
New Labour leaders claim the war in Kosovo was a success which they 'bravely' carried through even though there were 'doubters'. Was it really such a success? The bombing itself caused a huge surge of refugees, just as the bombing of Afghanistan has now done.
Now, two and a half years after the bombing, started many of the Kosovan refugees have returned to their homes. But 230,000 Serbs and Gypsies have been driven out of Kosovo. Kosovo is desperately poor, riddled with gangsterism and run by an administration wholly dependent on occupying NATO forces.
The West's support for Albanian forces against Serbia has destabilised the whole region and fuelled a bitter conflict in Macedonia. In Serbia it was mass action by the people themselves over 15 months after the war ended, not the West's intervention, that overthrew Milosevic.
In any case, there can be no comparison between Serbia, a small but industrial state, and the fractured, blasted society of Afghanistan.